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      Illegal immigrant faces jury for stabbing deaths

      Cazares in court facing murder charges / KHQA file photo

      UPDATED: April 14 at 5:10 p.m.

      The verdict is in and Manuel Cazares has been found guilty.

      Click here to read the updated story.

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      UPDATED: April 14 at 3:15 p.m.

      Closing arguments on both sides have concluded.

      Jurors left court room around 2:50 p.m. to begin deliberations.

      The prosecution claimed that Cazares' rage started the night before the murder when he found used condoms in Thomas' bathroom trash.

      The defense said the deaths were caused by blind rage and asked the jury to find Cazares guilty of involuntary man slaughter in the first degree.

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      UPDATED: April 14 at 12:35 p.m.

      Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Zoellner finished his questioning of Manuel Cazares at noon on Thursday.

      Zoellner asked Cazares if he could see that the children were not in the apartment the morning of February 27.

      Cazares said "Yes, I probably would have let thtem live if the kids were home....It wasn't my plan, it was the rage."

      Zoellner showed the jury the knife used to kill Thomas and Epley, and asked Cazares how he was holding the knife during the killings.

      Cazares replied, "I don't remember the way I was holding the knife."

      He also testified that he found two used condoms in the bathroom trashcan at Amanda's apartment on Feb. 26. He said Amanda told him they were from a girlfriend who had a male friend over in the apartment. He also said that two people called him the night of the 26th to tell him they saw Amanda out in Hannibal that night. Cazares said she told him she was going to be in Monroe City that night. He also said he didn't know why she did that (had a male friend over) because they'd (Manuel and Amanda) had just spent the previous night together.

      Cazares said, "No she did not deserve (to die) that".

      The trial resumes at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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      UPDATED: April 14 at 11:00 a.m.

      Manuel Cazares took the stand this morning as defense attorneys questioned him about the night of the double murder.

      With the help of an interpreter, he answered questions for about an hour before the court took a break.

      Cazares said, "I felt rage in my body. I just remember the rage inside of myself that I couldn't control."

      He admitted to stabbing Amanda Thomas and Carl Epley.

      He also said, "I had no reason to go on..I told the (Hannibal Police) officer to arrest me because I had taken the lives of two people."

      Cazares testified to the timeline of events from February 26-February 27, 2009.

      He said Amanda called him the night of the 26th and wanted to see him because she loved him.

      Even with an order of protection against him, Cazares spent the night with Amanda because "I loved her and loved my family." The next morning, he says he left at about 10 a.m. to get food. Amanda called him to say she was going out with friends that night. His shift at work ended around 9 p.m. and he went to a cousin's place to watch tv and drink beer. He tried calling Amanda but couldn't reach her. He went to bed about 3 a.m. and woke up at around 6 or 6:30 a.m. He still hadn't heard from Amanda and didn't know where their son was. So he asked a friend to take him to Amanda's apartment because he didn't have a valid Missouri driver's license.

      He arrived no later than 7:30 a.m., knocked, but no one answered. The door was unlocked so he went in. He saw beer bottles strewn about and man's clothing that was not his on the floor. He saw another man in his bed with Amanda, turned and looked for the kids. He went to the kitchen and got a knife. He saw that Amanda and Carl were naked and started stabbing Carl. He said he didn't know how many times. He then started stabbing Amanda.

      At this point in Cazares' testimony, family members of the victims started crying and wiping their eyes with tissues.

      Cazares said, "I felt rage in my body. I just remember the rage inside of myself that I couldn't control. I never meant to do any harm, I just felt rage. Up to this day I cannot eplain what happened, it was just rage."

      Cazares continued with his timeline testimony. He said he grabbed the knife, put it in a plastic bag and then into his backpack. He took Amanda's keys and cell phone and drove away in her car. He called his mother in Mexico to tell her what he had done and to say goodbye because his intent was to take his own life. He also called his sister in Jacksonville, Florida to say goodbye as well. She said he shouldn't take his own life. Cazares called his boss who also tried to talk him out of taking his own life and said Cazares couldn't escape his responsibilities.

      Cazares said, "I had no reason to go on. I went back to the apartment. Amanda was on the floor. I got back into the car and went to the Hannibal Police Department. I asked to speak to an officer and I told him to arrest me because I had taken the lives of two people."

      Cazares said after he was arrested he thought about trying to run for a fleeting second but arrived at the conclusion that he has to accept things as they are because of what he did.

      Rajah Maples is in the courtroom and will update this story.

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      UPDATED: April 14 at 7:30 a.m.

      The defense for illegal immigrant Manuel Cazares is expected to make its case in St. Charles Thursday morning.

      Cazares faces murder charges in connection with slaying his former girlfriend Amanda Thomas and her high school friend Carl Patrick Epley with a kitchen knife in Thomas' Hannibal apartment back in 2009.

      Jurors could get the case later on Thursday.

      Wednesday Prosecutors called ten witnesses to the stand...most of them Hannibal police officers and investigators.

      They testified Cazares turned himself in to the police department after the murders.

      One officer said he held out his hands and said "arrest me."

      KHQA's Rajah Maples will be in St. Charles today for the trial's wrap up and will bring you reaction throughout the day.

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      UPDATED: April 13 at 5:42 p.m.

      The prosecution has rested in the murder trial of illegal immigrant Manuel Cazares in St. Charles.

      He's accused of killing his former girlfriend Amanda Thomas and her high school friend Carl Patrick Epley in Thomas' Hannibal apartment in 2009.

      Family members wiped away tears as prosecutors spoke to the jury during opening arguments this morning.

      According to the Hannibal Courier Post, during the trial today, several Hannibal police officers testified Cazares came into the police department after the murders.

      They said he held out his hands and said "arrest me."

      The defense will pick up the case in the morning.

      Jurors could begin deliberating tomorrow.

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      UPDATED: April 13 at 9:42 a.m.

      The murder trial for illegal immigrant Manuel Cazares kicked off this morning with opening arguments.

      According to the Hannibal Courier Post a jury of seven men and seven women was chosen Tuesday during jury selection.

      Cazares is accused of killing his former girlfriend Amanda Thomas and her high school friend Carl Patrick Epley in Thomas' Hannibal apartment in 2009.

      The trial is being held in St. Charles, Mo. on a change of venue. It was postponed until now after a blizzard caused a two-day shutdown of the St. Charles courthouse in February.

      Family members say their nightmare began back on February 28 of 2009. Police found the bodies of Amanda Thomas and her high school friend Carl Patrick Epley stabbed to death in Thomas' apartment here in Hannibal. The primary suspect was Manuel Cazares. He was the father of Amanda's youngest child and her off and on boyfriend. He turned himself in to police and at the time told them he stabbed the duo to death with a kitchen knife when he found them in bed together.

      More information came out later....indicating Cazares was in the country illegally. Amanda Thomas also had three orders of protection against him at the time of her death.

      According to Hannibal Courier Post reporter Dominic Genetti, that information won TMt be presented to the jury at trial. Recently the court ruled the protection orders and Cazares TM status as an illegal Mexican immigrant of the United States cannot be used, however, if Cazares takes the stand, documents providing the information are allowed.Genetti reports prosecuting attorney Kevin Zoellner could call as many as 15 witnesses. He also expects Cazares TM public defender Todd Schulze to argue that the trial is not a case of murder, but involuntary manslaughter.

      The biggest roller coaster ride for the families of the victims was last year. That's when Cazares' defense attorney and the Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Redington asked for a plea deal and 30 years for Cazares. But the judge presiding over the case put that to a halt saying the deal was "too lenient."

      But although the ruling was what family members wanted to hear, last year Amanda's mother Jody Schaubroeck told us she knew both families have a long road ahead.

      Last year Schaubroeck said, "We know we are gambling with the system...once again. But no one can say we didn't fight for her. No one can say we did not fight for Patrick."

      We'll have more information as the trial unfolds throughout the day today and throughout the week.

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      UPDATED: April 12

      The trial of Hannibal murder suspect Manuel Cazares began with jury selection Tuesday, April 12 in St. Charles.

      It was rescheduled after ice and snow caused a two-day shutdown of the St. Charles courthouse in February.

      The trial is being heard in St. Charles, Mo. on a change of venue.

      Cazares is accused of killing his former girlfriend Amanda Thomas and her high school friend Patrick Epley in Thomas' Hannibal apartment two years ago.

      Read more about it here.

      Hannibal Courier Post reporter Dominic Genetti is on hand blogging throughout the day. Keep tabs by clicking here.

      We'll have more details throughout the day as they become available.

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